Statute of Limitations

Important Deadlines Concerning Legal Claims

Various laws, regulations and cases establish time limits or deadlines to file lawsuits and do other things to pursue claims in our legal system. These deadlines vary according to the laws of each State, the Federal Government, various Indian tribes, and even some contracts. Failure to meet the requirements of these deadlines will result in the loss of important rights to collect damages and to receive other important help from our legal system. 

If you are interested in pursuing your claims, you should immediately take action to learn what specific deadlines apply. You should hire an attorney to review those claims and tell you the dates of the applicable deadlines and what you are required to do to preserve important rights. You should then take action to preserve those rights if you or any others have any desire to pursue those claims.

Here are some general guidelines for common types of claims occurring in Oklahoma made under Oklahoma law.

Vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, slip and falls, dog bites – Adults.  In the case of a competent adult who is making claims for damage caused by these types of incidents in Oklahoma under Oklahoma law, a lawsuit must be brought within two (2) years of the date that person knew or should have known, through the exercise of reasonable due diligence, of the existence of his or her injuries or conditions.  Generally, but not always, that is on the day the incident occurred.  Other much shorter deadlines and certain notice requirements apply to claims and  incidents involving the State of Oklahoma or its subdivisions or Indian Tribes or the United States of America or its subdivisions. Please be aware that these shorter deadlines and notice requirements apply to hospitals or clinics run by government or Indian Tribe entities, casinos owned by Indian tribes, and vehicle collisions involving government employees or vehicles.

Vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, slip and falls, dog bites – Minor Children. In the case of a minor, who is injured in these types of incidents in Oklahoma and is making a claim under Oklahoma law, a lawsuit must be filed within one (1) year after attaining majority status.  Majority status is generally attained when a person reaches age eighteen (18) years. However, in some circumstances majority status may be conferred to a person who has not yet reached that age. In certain circumstances, this deadline might be extended by the operation of Oklahoma’s discovery rule. Other much shorter deadlines and certain notice requirements apply to claims and incidents involving the State of Oklahoma or its subdivisions or Indian Tribes or the United States of America or its subdivisions. Please be aware that these shorter deadlines and notice requirements apply to hospitals or clinics run by government or Indian Tribe entities, casinos owned by Indian tribes, and vehicle collisions involving government employees or vehicles.

Claims against the State of Oklahoma or its subdivisions.  These claims are governed by the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act, which is found in Title 12, Chapter 5, Sections 151 and following.  Generally speaking, this Act provides that any person having a claim against the state or a political subdivision shall present a claim to the state or political subdivision for any appropriate relief including the award of money damages.

In general, claims against the state or a political subdivision are to be presented within one (1) year of the date the loss occurs. This includes claims by both adults and minors. A claim against the state or a political subdivision shall be forever barred unless notice thereof is presented within one (1) year after the loss occurs. When the claim is one for death by wrongful act or omission, notice may be presented by the personal representative within one (1) year after the death occurs.

A person may not initiate a suit against the state or a political subdivision unless the claim has been denied in whole or in part. A claim is deemed denied if the state or political subdivision fails to approve the claim in its entirety within ninety (90) days, unless the state or political subdivision has denied the claim or reached a settlement with the claimant before the expiration of that period. If the state or a political subdivision approves or denies the claim in ninety (90) days or less, the state or political subdivision shall give notice within five (5) days of such action to the claimant at the address listed in the claim. No action shall be maintained unless valid notice has been given and the action is commenced within one hundred eighty (180) days after denial of the claim as set forth in this section.

This Act applies to many hospitals and medical clinics operated by the State, Counties, Municipalities and public trusts.  Claims against these facilities must comply with the provisions of the Act.  The Act also applies to motor vehicle collisions involving government employees or vehicles.  The Act in its entirety may be found here.  See Chapter 5. 

Other Types of Cases Here are several websites, which can give you general guidelines about other important deadlines.  Please note that these general guidelines should not be used to figure the exact dates by which you must act to avoid forfeiting your rights.  Court cases can modify these deadlines in significant ways. You should hire an attorney to tell you what the exact deadlines are in your situation.